By Lawrence Budmen

For any aspiring vocal student, the opportunity to perform for and receive coaching from one of the world's great singers is a dream, a goal on the way to a professional career. Four students in the Department of Vocal Performance at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music will have their dream come true on March 5 when Renee Fleming, one of opera's true superstars, presents a Master Class at 2:00 P.M. in the Gusman Concert Hall on the UM campus.

Fleming is one of the most versatile artists on the opera and concert stages of the world. Her operatic repertoire embraces the Baroque ornaments of Handel, heroines of Mozart, bel canto divas of Bellini, seductive temptresses of Massenet, and the star soprano roles of Verdi. Dvorak's Rusalka and Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin also figure prominently in her operatic resume. She has played leads in world premieres of operas by Conrad Susa, John Corigliano and Andre Previn. Her concert repertoire is no less rich. Richard Strauss' Four Last Songs and Samuel Barber's Knoxville - Summer of 1915 have been mainstays. Fleming has also frequently been soloist in Verdi's Requiem, the vocal works of Heitor Villa-Lobos and has sung contemporary works by the French master Henri Dutilleux. Occasional forays into the Great American Song Book, jazz and pop are among the many facets of this truly versatile singer.

With a global opera and concert career, Fleming does not have much time for teaching activities. Yet she believes strongly in giving back something of value to the musical world that has nurtured her and wants to help gifted young singers. She has done master classes at Harvard University and New York's Juilliard School.

An opportunity arose for a UM master class because Fleming is coming to South Florida to open Festival of the Arts Boca with the Russian National Orchestra on Saturday, March 6 at Boca Raton's Mizner Park Amphitheater. Her sister Rachelle Fleming, a Doctoral candidate in vocal performance at the Frost School, felt this was a wonderful opportunity for the renowned soprano to work with students from the Frost vocal department since she would have some free time in her rehearsal schedule for the Boca festival concert. Four of the school's best vocal students representing each of the basic voice categories - soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and baritone - have been selected by the faculty to work with Fleming.

Rachelle Fleming is enthusiastic about the university's vocal program. "It is a wonderful program. It is intensely performance oriented but also has an important component for vocal education," she notes. "This is going to be a wonderful event." Not only for the four participants but for the many students involved in the opera and music theater programs, this will be a priceless opportunity. For the audience, it may be an opportunity to see the stars of the future share the wisdom of an operatic legend.

The event, followed by a meet the artists reception, will be a benefit for the Frost School's Department of Vocal Performance scholarships and the Frost Opera Theater. For tickets and information call 305-284-4940 or see


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